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This report discusses the points-based selection processes used by Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom within the context of the immigration systems of these countries. The individual country surveys reveal that Australia operates a hybrid system for skilled migration that involves employer sponsorship and a points-based visa program that was revised in 2012. The UK’s points-based program, introduced in 2003, provides for five different immigrant tiers. Canada uses a points-based selection process for its Federal Skilled Workers Program, which is one of several programs within its “economic class” of immigration. The specific criteria considered within the points-based programs of the countries surveyed vary but can include such factors as the applicant’s age, educational background, language abilities, experience, employment arrangements, and general adaptability, among others. All of the countries surveyed appear to emphasize labor market needs in their current selection processes.

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Australia operates a “hybrid” system for skilled migration, involving both employer sponsorship options and points-based visas.  In recent years, there has been a shift in focus away from independent skilled migration, with greater emphasis being placed on demand-driven employer- and government-sponsored skilled migration.  In 2012, three new points-based visas were introduced to replace the existing visas and a new application process was put in place.  This followed the introduction of a new points test in 2011 that recognizes a broader range of skills and attributes.  Australia also offers visas for temporary and seasonal workers.  A status resolution service, bridging visas, and an online visa verification system are among the mechanisms used to encourage voluntary compliance with the immigration system.

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Immigration to Canada is predominantly regulated by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its regulations, which categorize immigrants as economic class immigrants, family class immigrants , and refugees or others needing special protection.  The Federal Skilled Workers Program in the economic class category uses a points system to evaluate applicants in the areas of education, languages, experience, age, employment arrangements, and adaptability.  Since 2008 Canada has been tightening its immigration policies and laws and focusing predominantly on economic class immigration and short-term labor market needs.

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United Kingdom

The UK introduced a points-based program comprising five different tiers in 2003 to simplify its immigration system.  Tier 1, the most popular, is for high-value migrants.  Most of the tiers require that the applicant have a job offer and be sponsored by an employer licensed by the UK Border Agency.  This sponsorship aims to make the employer responsible for the migrant worker and includes notification requirements if the employee stops working.  Illegal immigration remains a problem in the UK, and the difficulty in determining an exact number of illegal immigrants present is exacerbated by the lack of exit controls. 

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Last Updated: 06/09/2015